With a steady stream of small accolades over the internet, I had wanted to visit Gui Lin Mi Fen for some time since its opening and somehow did not until recently. After enjoying similar noodles of this beautiful southern city (think postcard views of karst topography) at a Sunset Park restaurant called Taste of Guilin, I was wondering if this small Flushing restaurant would up the ante.
On a chilly Wednesday evening in March, the restaurant was basically empty, with a couple delivery orders leaving every now and then. Our group of three sat down for $3 beers and perused the menu. They have an easy system here, pick your style of mi fen, and then add toppings as desired. The bowls are quite large and definitely qualify as a meal, but there are some interesting side dishes.
We each went for a different bowl, above is the beef option ($7.75), served with an additional bowl of peanuts. Each order comes with a thin cloudy broth that can be added as desired. It is perfectly acceptable to eat the noodles "dry" or to pour the whole bowl of broth in and mix, either way the taste changes little.
The noodles are served very nicely, but the flavors don't arrive until you start mixing everything together. Underneath the meat and noodles are layers of pickled vegetables, garlic, chili, and soybeans that give the dish its famous pungent quality. Guilin-style noodles are soft and satisfying, giving the impression they have cooked for quite some time.
The tastiest option of the night seemed to be the fried pork (above), but we also enjoyed the smoked pork ($7.25, below). The restaurant also has an oxtail version, as well as vegetarian and sour & spicy.
Well received on our table was the dried tofu with kalimeris indica leaves ($6, below). The tones are earthy, but the balance between vegetable and bean curd are just right.
Also tasty is the Shanghai chicken (below, 1/4 portion), which can be ordered in 1/2 or whole chicken portions as well. The meaty bird is chopped up and served cold, with a garlicky dipping sauce laced with scallion.
While our heads were prone to nodding and the meal was enjoyed, I think the Sunset Park version of these Guilin noodles is just a step ahead of Flushing's first, but we hope the popularity, and thus the standard keeps rising around the city.